Halliburton Books Widened Teacher’s Mind and Spirit

Jean Jones of Bernice, Louisiana, has donated five books written by West Tennessee author Richard Halliburton for the bookshelf that leads into Discovery Park’s Enlightenment Gallery. Fittingly, above the shelf can be found the quote “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit” by Jawaharlal Nehru.

“As a youngster, my mother, Jerry Jo Johnson, was enchanted with Richard Halliburton and envied his world travels and adventures,” said Jones. “She grew up in the small town of Hubbard, Texas, and loved reading about Richard Halliburton and his exotic adventures, imagining herself in his shoes.”

Halliburton was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, and grew up in Memphis. He lived his life following a philosophy he expressed in his first book, “The Royal Road to Romance,” published in 1925. “Let those who wish have their respectability,” he wrote. “I wanted freedom, freedom to indulge in whatever caprice struck my fancy, freedom to search in the farthest corners of the earth for the beautiful, the joyous, and the romantic.”

Against the backdrop of the Golden Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression, Halliburton’s exploits around the globe made him an internationally known celebrity and the most famous travel writer of his time. From climbing Mount Olympus in Greece to swimming the Panama Canal and literally flying all the way to Timbuktu, Halliburton experienced and wrote about adventures that others never even believed possible. His youthful spirit and bohemian lifestyle won the hearts of millions.

Inspired by Halliburton, Johnson toured Europe with her aunt as a young woman, then settled into a lifetime career of teaching and raising a family. Upon her retirement, she took off on several adventures—two lengthy trips to the Soviet Union, several trips to European countries and a cruise through the Panama Canal.

“Richard would have approved!” noted her daughter, Jean.

Jerry Jo Johnson died in August, 2005 in a hospital in New Orleans, as Hurricane Katrina howled outside.

The Halliburton books that inspired Johnson that you can now find on the bookshelf are:

  • New Worlds to Conquer, 1929, Garden City Pub.
  • The Royal Road to Romance, 1925, Garden City Pub.
  • Flying Carpet, 1932, Garden City
  • Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels—The Occident (school edition), 1937, Bobbs Merrill
  • Richard Halliburton, His Story of His Life’s Adventures, 1940, Bobbs Merrill